Traverse – HMI Gap Blog by Molly Grand and Sam Adgate
We started off in St. George by picking up our instructor Sam from the airport (which may or may not have involved our bus being a bit too tall…) and heading straight to our campsite in Snow Canyon State Park. He got a big welcome back and we were excited to have him with us for our next climbing section! On our first climbing day, your two authors of this blog, Molly and Sam, were the Leaders of the Day and planned a fun day of climbing at The Circus Wall. We incorporated a theme of the day, where everyone had to embody and impersonate a celebrity for the entire day. We all stayed in character until the evening meeting, where our true identities were revealed. People really took this one and ran with it- we had political figures, TikTok stars, singers, and Emma Mitchell was even Nemo! She did a great impression. The Circus Wall was only a 15-minute walk from our campsite, so we decided to take advantage of that short commute and go there two days in a row! The climbs there were super fun and more on the longer side than what we had previously done. In the first few days, we set our goals for what we wanted to learn at this section and incorporated different lessons into each day. We started off by learning how to build and clean anchors–anchor is the name for the system that keeps your rope safe at the top of a climb. They are very important! Nicholas taught us how to build an anchor system called a quad, and then every day of the trip, different students built them to be used for whatever climbs were set up that day. Instructor Sam taught us how to clean anchors, which is the process of taking anchors down. He set up a simulation station for us so we could practice a lot on the ground before doing it on the wall.
On our second day of climbing at The Circus Wall, students who felt comfortable started to clean anchors on the wall for the first time! Instructors were always up there with them to help guide them through the process and make sure they felt safe and secure with whatever step came next! This second day of climbing also marks the day of the beginning of Molly and Emma Mitchell’s prank wars with Nicholas. At breakfast, they hid his sacred sitting pad and brought it to the environmental studies class he taught in the afternoon about The Land Ethic and Interdependence. This class was more discussion-based and Nicholas prompted us with thought-provoking questions to answer in small groups about the readings we had completed.
Over the next few days, we did most of our climbing at the Black Rocks, a small canyon of amazing basalt walls. We alternated between the sunny and shady sides and explored climbs on both! We did lots of stretch circles at the beginning of each day and had other fun themes, like crazy hair day and crazy helmet day! For crazy helmet day, people taped jelly bottles onto their helmets, taped little plants on their helmets, and Sam even taped his seltzer can onto his helmet! It sure was crazy!
One afternoon, Instructor Sam decided to teach his passion class on America’s favorite pastime–wiffle ball. We set up the big blue water jugs as bases and split up into teams. Team A was Molly, Abby, Joey, Instructor Sam, Kid Sam, and Emma Mitchell. Team B was Liana, Alex, Nicholas, Norah, Kayra, and “Em Em”. Instructor Sam set the rules- fouls are strikes, 3 strikes is an out, and you must crab walk instead of run. What occurred on that field was the most competitive and intense game of wiffle ball any of us have ever played. People played hard and they played to win. People were sliding, stealing, diving into tents, and leaving their blood and tears on that field to get the prize of bragging rights. In the end, it ended up being a tie (but because it was Instructor Sam’s passion class, his team won). It sure covered all the bases for a fun activity.
On our last day of climbing, we woke up super early and made the hour and a half drive to Lime Kiln Canyon! The Instructors set up 5 different climbs for us, and we were really excited because this climbing was more challenging and technical than what we had been doing for the last week. One climb gave us a chance to mock lead, which meant we could practice bringing a rope up with us and clipping it to the bolts. We all tried to fit in as much climbing as we could and take advantage of our last day!
As usual, we kept up with our evening meetings and Circle, still featuring Joke of the Night (ya know it, ya love it) and KQCC Radio! We’ve really gotten to bond as a community over tent talks, evening meetings, and conversations at the crag.
During this past week, The I-Team introduced SPE (Student Planned Expedition) to us and that we were going to be electing two student leaders soon! We all started thinking about the two people we wanted to lead us for our last expedition, and we decided upon Emma Mitchell and Norah! We can’t wait for them to lead us in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge for 12 days of backpacking!